With more and more Swaledale runners getting interested in fell running, the club was delighted to be able to field two teams this year at the British Fell and Hill Relay Championships on October 16th. The men’s team, consisting of Mike Keavney, Ian Oldham, Neil Bowmer, Josh Westwood, Tim Grimwood and Sam Johnson, made the top half of a very strong field, finishing 108th out of 220 teams overall. The mixed team, made up of Simon Hewitt, Ros Blackmore, Caroline Graham, Jim Coldwell, Emily Abbey and Tony Taylor, were 195th overall, 23rd out of 30 mixed teams.
Marathon season continues and the York Marathon on October 17th was an important race for two Swaledale Runners in particular. Both Jess Young and Grace Gilpin had trained hard, set themselves tough targets – and smashed them! Jess Young produced the run of her life to finish in 3.07.33, 15th out of more than 1000 women and 8th FV35. Grace Gilpin had set herself the target of breaking the 4-hour barrier, having come close at this event in 2018. She paced herself well and really pushed herself up the final incline to finish in 3.59.03 as 5th FV60. Martin Randall, just 2 weeks after completing the hilly Kielder Marathon, was running to support a friend in her first ever marathon. They finished the course together in a creditable 4.22.50, a great time for a first marathon.
The Langdale Marathon on October 23rd offered a smaller field and a much hillier course to three veteran Swaledale Runners. Liz Sowter was first Swaledaler home, delighted to finish in 4.31.13, 1st FV60 and 8th female out of 32. Julia Spittle, modestly targeting a sub 6-hour finish, also won her age category, finishing well ahead of schedule in 5.21.48 as 1st FV65. Roger Brisley, after completing the Great North Run and the London Marathon, finished his trio of big events for the season just behind Julia in 5.23.13, as 3rd V65.
On October 24th nine Swaledale Runners headed off to the Lockton Limping , the second event in the Dave Parry Lets Run Winter Fell Race Series. Tim Grimwood consolidated his position in the series as 4th overall and 1st V40. There was success for the ladies as well, with Ros Blackmore 1st FV50 and Claire Stewart 2nd FV50. Full Swaledale results from 131 starters, (130 finishers). Tim Grimwood 53.12, 4th, 1st MV40. Neil Bowmer 63.43, 41st, 7th MV50. Ian Oldham 64.03, 43rd, 10th MV45. Mike Keavney 70.12, 63rd, 3rd MV55. Ros Blackmore 72.28, 72nd, 1st FV50. Caroline Graham 78.33, 93rd, 9th FV40. Claire Stewart 81.40, 100th, 2nd FV55. Martha McBarron 93.58, 120th, 3rd FV60. Both Male and Female Teams finished 6th!
Sunday October 10th was one of the most important days in the club’s calendar, as we staged the annual Richmond Castle 10K. One of the marshals reported that comments from finishers ranged from ‘That was brutal’ to ‘That’s the best 10K in Britain’! Congratulations to the organising team for putting on such a great event. Five Swaledalers competed in the 10K, many of them for the first time: Emily Abbey 46.41, 6th Female, Mark Smith 52.33, Isla Collinge 53.04, Louise Black 53.15, Carrie Morrell 1.12.14.
Here's a link to the results.
Over the last few weeks lots of Swaledale runners have tested themselves over longer distances. The Wensleydale Wander is a popular local event for runners and walkers, with the option of a 12-mile and a 23-mile route. Martha McBarron had an excellent run to complete the short route in 2.22, 4th lady and 11th overall. Carrie Morrell used the event as a recovery walk from the GNR and finished in 4.09. On the long route Jess Young flew round in 3.23, 1st lady and an impressive 3rd overall. She was followed by Derek Parrington in 3.41, Martin Randall in 3.46, Helen Nicholson, Liz Sowter and Heather Hodgson in 4.23, Richard Izdebski in 4.49 and Simon Hewitt and John Cantrell in 5.16.
On September 26th triathlete Carol Murray competed in the Outlaw X half Ironman. It was a challenging course: the lake had ‘so much weed it was like swimming through a bowl of salad’, the bike leg had 700m on ascent on busy roads and the run was three loops on varied terrain. Carol was justifiably happy with her result of 6'39.13, 9/21 in her age group, 93/173 female and 565/778 overall.
On October 2nd it rained all day on the seven brave Swaledale runners who tackled the Round Ripon Ultra. 102 runners started the race and 92 finished. Experienced ultra-runner Ros Blackmore was first home for the club in 7.03.27, 39th, 6th female, 3rd FV50. Helen Nicholson, in her ultra debut, was not far behind in 7.29.10, 54th, 11th female, 5th FV50. Shortly afterwards Simon Hewitt, once again in a supporting role, finished with Rachel Ridley in 7.44.45, which placed Rachel as 12th female. John Cantrell, Stuart Clarkson and Julia Spittle also ran together and kept each other going to finish in 8.34.02, with Julia delighted to pick up the trophy as 1st FV60.
The weather could not have been more different for the Grewelthorpe Trail Race the next day. Four Swaledalers competed the 13K course in excellent running conditions. Neil Bowmer was 17th in 1.04.23, Emily Abbey 4th female in 1.12.00, Liz Sowter 11th female and 1st FV60 in 1.19.34 and Samantha Metcalfe flew down the final hill to finish in 1.37.36.
This was also marathon day for thousands of runners across the country. Tim Grimwood is more at home on the fells than on flat tarmac, but he took on the challenge of running the London marathon to raise money for St Nicholas Hospice . He paced his run like a pro, speeding up in the final miles to finish in 3.11.10. Robert Dashwood, who had waited for years to get a London Marathon place, thoroughly enjoyed the experience and finished in 4.29.48. Roger Brisley had also waited for years to run this event and given a recent serious injury he has worked miracles to get to the starting line. He ran a well-paced first half, but stomach issues left him running on empty later on, so he stoically plodded home in 5.50.43.
Martin Randall completes the Kielder marathon every year, so he wasn’t going to let a dodgy ankle hold him back. He finished this hilly course 88th overall in 3.52.14. Another Kielder enthusiast, Niall Cheyne, produced his best performance since 2014 to finish in 5.02.49.
Saturday October 9th saw Tim Grimwood back on the fells at the Langdale Horseshoe. Just 12.5 in length it has an incredible 4600ft of ascent over what the organisers describe as ‘a rough, tough course with almost exclusively rocky and slippy ground’. Tim finished 62nd in 3.00.26, followed by an excellent performance from Mike Keavney in 3.29.02 and Ian Oldham in 4.00.22. On the same day Neil Bowmer joined an incredibly strong field on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Fell Race. Conditions were misty but warm and he was pleased to get round in 4.55.40 safely and without incident. Neil was 282nd out of 467 starters.
Sunday October 10th was one of the most important days in the club’s calendar, as we staged the annual Richmond Castle 10K. One of the marshals reported that comments from finishers ranged from ‘That was brutal’ to ‘That’s the best 1
Ian Oldham and Caroline Graham headed off for another alpine adventure at the start of the month, as they took part in the Ultra Tour Monte Rosa. This is a 170K stage race, with a staggering 11,620m of ascent, to be covered over 4 days. It starts in Grächen in Switzerland and follows a classic long-distance path, leading around the Monte Rosa Massif, making a complete circuit of the Mischabel Peaks and the 4000m summits of the Nadelgrat ridge.It is described as ‘more technical and more wild’ than the UTMB! Ian injured his knee on day two, but managed to run and hobble round the rest of the course with Caroline: ‘a holiday filled with highs and lows, literally and metaphorically!’Congrtaluation to Ian and Caroline on another epic achivement.
In complete contrast, Jess Young and Liz Sowter completed 20 laps of a park in Darlington on September 4th, at the South Park 20. Jess had a fantastic run and produced a big PB, finishing as 2nd lady in 2.24.24. Liz could see the race between the top three ladies evolving as they kept lapping her, but she achieved her objective of going under 3 hours, finishing in 2.59.59! While this may not be the most scenic of runs, both found it very useful for marathon preparation and it was a friendly, well-organised event.
On September 5th Jim Coldwell and Tim Grimwood took part in the Burnsall fell race, which is one of the oldest races in the fell running calendar. It covers a distance of 1.5 miles, with 800ft of ascent. Tim was 13th in 16.21 and Jim was 75th in 24.44.
On September 10th Chris and Angela Muston tackled steep slopes in a very different location, on the Greek island of Skopelos. Chris chose the half marathon (21K with 757m of ascent), where he finished 18th overall out of 34 in 2.27.32. He describes the route as ‘hard uphill on the first half, virtually vertical climbs towards the top of Palouki. Stones, sage plants, pine scented tracks and a nice downhill second half’. Angela opted for the 5K (with 112m of ascent) where she came 24th out of 30 overall.
On September 11th two Swaledale Runners completed the Castleton Show 6, which is described as ‘a road race for fell runners or a fell race for road runners’. Martin Randall, supporting a friend and recovering from an ankle injury, finished in 54.06, while Martha McBarron was not far behind, finishing as 5th lady and 1st FV60 in 55.53, an excellent achievement on this hilly course.
On September 12th Tim Grimwood took part in the Lake District Mountain Trial, a classic mountain navigation race. His verdict on the race was ‘tough day at the mountain trial, perfect visibility but a very sweaty day. Mostly happy with my route choice and time but struggled to get going at times.’ He completed 23.5 miles with 7,943ft of ascent, finishing 35th in an official time of 6.29.39.
On the same day Andrew Fletcher took part in the Tholthorpe 10K. He finished in 44.34 as 3rd V60, adding to his list of good results for the age-graded club championship. This was also the day of the long awaited Great North Run. First home for the club was Andrew Fahey in 1.32.32, followed closely by Iain Kerr, in a PB of 1.32.55. Roger Brisley, recently returned from serious injury, ran remarkably well to finish in 1.53.52. John Cantrell kept his eyes on the pacer and ran with determination to finish in 1.59.10. It is likely that Lucy Tulloch would also have finished under 2 hours, but she generously stopped to help a collapsed runner and came in at 2.02.01. Carrie Morrell was next in 2.21.05, followed by Sheila Cantrell in 2.25.04. Stuart Clarkson completed his 20th GNR, this time supporting a friend on her first one. They finished in 2.47.23. Just behind them, Claire Hewitt finished her first (and she reckons last ever) GNR in 2.50.02, supported by her husband Simon in 2.50.04.
On August 18th Roger Brisley and Julia Spittle took part in the Sessay Swift, a fast flat 6K run which has become increasingly popular and attracted over 300 runners this year. Both Roger and Julia are returning from injury and were pleased to finish in 31.13 and 33.26 respectively, both round about the middle of their 10-year age categories.
On August 22nd four Swaledale runners headed for Raby Castle to take part in the multi-terrain races organised by Wild Deer events. Isla Collinge had an excellent run to finish the 10K as 3rd lady in 54.42, not too far behind her sister who came in 1st! The others chose the half marathon distance, where Martin Randal was 9th in 1.49.26, followed by Rebecca Pickles in 2.17.43 and Martha McBarron (1st FV60) in 2.25.02.
Runners were spoiled for choice with races over the bank holiday weekend. Martin Randall and Liz Sowter headed to Stanhope, for a hilly 10 mile race organised to raise money for a local charity, Quinn’s Retreat. Martin was 14th in a speedy 1.16.44 and Liz was 4th lady in 1.31.17.
In the evening Martin was back in action at the West Witton Fell race. This was a very successful evening for the ‘green machine’, with Tim Grimwood winning the race ahead of some tough competition in 33.55. He is now the proud holder of a trophy which bears the names of triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee. Not to be outdone, the ladies picked up the top two trophies, with Heather Hodgson leading the way and Ros Blackmore hot on her heels. Swaledale results: Tim Grimwood 1st 33.55, Neil Bowmer 13th 42.41, Mike Keavney 15th 43.34, Martin Randall 18th 44.22, Jim Coldwell 19th 47.24, Heather Hodgson 47.59 1st lady, Ros Blackmore 48.50 2nd lady..
While Martin was ambitious in taking part in two consecutive races, Neil Bowmer and Ros Blackmore went one better and did three! Fountains Abbey Parkrun and the West Witton fell race on Saturday were followed by the Saturn Running 7 hour event Durham, where they both chose to complete the marathon distance.
On Monday 30th Tim Grimwood and Jim Coldwell headed for the fells one again. In the Hebden sports fell race Tim Grimwood was 18th in 12.59 and Jim Coldwell 70th in 18.01.
With Saturday’s Turner Landscape race being cancelled as the result of a poor weather forecast, I was beginning to fear that ‘proper fell running’ was on its last legs. Luckily a text from Tim on Monday asking me whether I fancied a go at Steel Fell on Wednesday night has persuaded me otherwise. Steel Fell lies at the bottom end of Thirlmere and is a classic Lakeland up and down fell race. Registration was in a barn, race entry was free and the only kit requirement was that it ‘might be a good idea to take a jacket’ (it was teaming down when we arrived at the race). Luckily the weather cleared just as the race started and we were rewarded with fantastic views down to Thirlmere on the steep, grassy descent. Race results took the form of stickers on the barn door (another throwback to earlier, simpler times) and it turned out that Hannah Russel of Helm Hill had broken the ladies’ record. For this achievement her prize was a choice between a can of lager (singular) or a bottle of cider (also singular). A wise choice of the cider meant the overall winner, Mark Lamb of Keswick, came away with the lager. Tim finished near the front in 15th place and I finished near the back in 54th from a small but high-quality field. This race reminded me of what fell races were like when I started many moons ago and represented all that is great about this sport. I am pleased to say that if you know where to look, proper fell running very definitely lives on.
A Bob and a Frog. So easy to say, it rolls off the tongue. But it pays no heed to the pain and suffering that is to come.
At the beginning of 2020 at the start of the pandemic, with the cancellation of all our planned races, I knew I would need something special to motivate my running. The Bob Graham Round was the obvious choice but as Ros and Jess were also planning the Frog Graham Round, I thought it was the ideal opportunity to be able to say 'I've done a Bob and a Frog.' If I could achieve it of course......
The Bob Graham Round, first completed in 1932 is a 66 mile fell running challenge over 42 peaks in the Lake District, in 24 hours. The Frog Graham, a modern take on the Bob Graham, covers 40 miles of fell running over 18 peaks but also includes swimming across 4 of the major lakes in over 2 miles. As I am not the strongest swimmer in the world or the fastest mountain runner, I knew it would keep me very busy training for both attempts. Here’s my account of the Bob followed by Ros’s account of the Frog…..
The Bob Graham Round: Saturday 19th June 2021
The route is split into five legs and the contender must have at least one witness on each summit. It's traditional to have two support runners, one to help navigate and one to carry gear, so that the contender can concentrate on running and preserve energy. It was important to me to have as many Swaledale Runners in my support team as possible but as we don't yet have enough experience to make a full team, I was very lucky to have had good friends from Todmorden Harriers to help as well. I was running to a 23-hour schedule, so I knew what pace I needed to maintain, with a little wriggle room at the end in case things didn't go as planned. I was also carrying an Open Tracking device which showed my position on the hills, helping the support crew and allowing friends and family to follow my progress from their homes.
Leg 1: Keswick to Threlkeld
At 23.50 on the 18th June 2021 a small group of people could be found in front of the Moot Hall in Keswick, the traditional start and finish of the BGR. Bob and Simon (a very last-minute stand-in) were my Leg 1 support, and Mandy, Phil and Ros were there to send me on my way. Dead on midnight, with accompanying cheers from Keswick's late-night revellers, we set off on the biggest single ascent on the round. It is about 800m to the summit of Skiddaw. About halfway up, Simon decided the pace was too much for him and Bob took on the dual role of gear carrying and navigating in the dark, reaffirming his nickname of ‘Saint' Bob. Things went well over the boggy ground to Great Calva and on up to the summit of Blencathra where Phil was waiting to guide us down the technical descent of Halls Fell Ridge. When Phil assured me that his line avoided the treacherous ground, I had to ask the question 'but isn't this treacherous ground? ', since we were descending near vertical grass in the dark above a steep drop!
The angle soon eased and I had to agree that it made for a quick descent to Threkeld, where the support crew of Mandy and Ros were waiting.
Arrived at Threlkeld checkpoint at 04.00, right on schedule.
On August 1st nine Swaledale Runners took part in the Darlington 10K, showing that not all our members are averse to running on flat tarmac! Results: Andrew Fletcher 44.29, James Cunnache 46.48, Mark Smith 47.25, Grace Gilpin 49.10 (2nd FV60), Annelie Whitfield 49.35 (3rd FV55), Niall Cheyne 50.07, Rebecca Pickles 51.28, Suzanna Allen 56.11, Carrie Morrell 1.06.39. On the same day Jo Coates travelled further afield to take part in the York 10K, which she finished in 1.17.52.
Like many club members, Avril Thresh has developed a taste for ultra-distances this year. She took part in the multi-lapped Saturn 50K in Durham, putting in a strong performance to finish in 6.36.26.
Over the same weekend Gary Young set himself the challenge of walking the length of Hadrian’s Wall in one continuous outing. Supported by family and stalwarts Ros and Neil, he completed the 142K walk in an impressive if exhausting 32.34.17.
In contrast, Tim Grimwood tackled the BOFRA Farleton Knott fell race. In his best placing this season, he finished in 7th place out of 76 runners, around 2 mins 30 behind the winner.
On July 24th two Swaledale Runners completed the fearsome Lakeland 50, made tougher by the heat. Jess Young finished in an amazing time of 11.46.15, 19th female and 123rd overall. Simon was feeling good, but chose to stick with a fellow runner, finishing in 14.46.06. Credit also goes to Ros Blackmore and Neil Bowmer, who spent around 22 hours at a checkpoint, encouraging and assisting runners.
Closer to home there was a good turnout at the James Herriot Trail run on July 25th, with some Swaledale Runners racing and others assisting the organisers with timing. Josh Westwood was first home for the club in 62.17 (21st overall) , followed by Iain Kerr in 64.49, Jim Coldwell in 75.53, Isla Collinge in 78.35, Heather Hodgson in 80.03 and Sam Metcalfe in 96.31. Conditions were dry, but this remains a challenging, hilly course.
Meanwhile Grace Gilpin took part in the Durham Coastal Trail half marathon. Despite getting stung by hornets she enjoyed the event and was 1st FV60, in 2.07.56.